Brita Horn: Story was political hatchet job
January 19, 2018
The Steamboat Todays's recent front-page story, "52 minutes of politics," claims that I made a 52-minute-long telephone call from the treasurer's office to a political consultant, Magellan Strategies, and implies that I made this call to further my campaign to become Colorado's next state treasurer.
The most political part of this story is the Steamboat Todays's spin. The paper left out key facts to mislead readers. Then, it fabricated more news by belatedly publishing some of these facts, along with more preening from commissioners who planted the original story.
Where to begin?
First, I can't possibly remember the precise details of the thousands of telephone conversations I had last year, and I certainly don't remember the details of a 52-minute call that took place nine months ago. I can say, though, that all calls related to my treasurer's campaign occur on my private phone.
That's how I have done it in the past. That's how I do it now. And, that's how I will continue to do it.
Second, I have volunteered to recruit speakers for a four-day county treasurer and public trustee convention that my office is hosting this June. I've probably made more than a hundred calls to recruit speakers and coordinate presentations, and Magellan is one of the many vendors who may present at this convention. The phone call in December was to discuss that possibility.
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Third, pay attention to the fact that the Steamboat Today dug through hundreds and hundreds of phone records, but it could only come up with two instances to criticize me, one of which I explain above, and the other which was a nine-month-old conversation the details of which I don’t recall. Two instances.
If the paper had found scores and scores of suspect calls, it might actually have the beginnings of a story. But it couldn't. Out of hundreds of phone calls and well more than a thousand hours of work last year, the Steamboat Today could only complain about two conversations totaling 73 minutes.
Simply put, this story was a political hatchet job. The paper targeted my phone records for investigation — not records from the county commissioners, other county elected officials or local officials. The paper timed its story to appear one day after the county issued a new policy on employee political involvement.
And, of course, the paper printed plenty of self-righteous, moralizing quotes from other county officials — with whom the paper coordinated in the first place.
Readers who focus on the news that the Steamboat Today was involved in creating are missing the real story, which is the Steamboat Today's willing participation in a coordinated political attack.
I welcome the Steamboat Today to cover this spring's treasurer and public trustee convention — I'm sure any reporter will be impressed by the number of experienced, smart and helpful presentations. I welcome the paper treating all county elected officials in the same manner they've treated me. And, of course, I welcome fair reporting, not manufactured outrage.
Routt County treasurer
Colorado State Treasurer candidate